Whether you are having a backyard party with a keg, or you have to store a backup keg for your Kegerator, you have found yourself asking do untapped kegs need to be refrigerated? In this article we break down the do’s and don’t of keeping a keg cold before tapping.
Do untapped kegs need to be refrigerated?
Yes, most beers brewed in the US need to be refrigerated. To store a keg of beer at room temperature it needs to be pasteurized so it will not spoil and most beer brewed in the US is not pasteurized. A typical keg needs to be kept between 36 and 38 degrees to maintain freshness and flavor.
There are a few exceptions to refrigerating keg beer; beers brewed outside of the United state are pasteurized to keep beer fresh longer when they ship the kegs around the world. In the United States we consume most of the beer brewed locally and quickly. There is little need for pasteurization and very few breweries practice it. Click here to see more about the pasteurization of beer.
What will happen if you leave untapped kegs at room temperature?
Temperature is one of the most important factors in the quality of a draft beer. Not just the temperature it is served, but also the temperature it is stored. A keg that is stored above the recommended 38 degrees will produce foamy beer, which will lead to stale flavor. An unpasteurized domestic US beer (most beers brewed in the America) stored at temperatures above 50 degrees will also allow bacteria to grow in the beer which will spoil the flavor and ruin the brew.
How can I keep a keg cold without Kegerator space?
If you are trying to keep a keg cold without a Kegerator you have a few options.
Kegerators… or anther kegerator
The most reasonable solution is to purchase a Kegerator to keep your brew cold. These machines are made to store and pour kegs. Already have one but not enough room for all your beer? Maybe it’s time to purchase another.
You can use refrigerator. Keep in mind the ideal temperature to store draft beer is 38 degrees. If you can manage to move the shelves around in your refrigerator to fit your fresh untapped keg you may have a temporary solution to keeping your keg cool.
No room in your fridge? You can find mini fridges for under $150 to keep your next brew at the recommended 36-38 degrees.
Garbage Can of Ice
If you need to keep your keg cold for just a day or two before tapping, this tried and true technique may be your best bet. Put the keg in a trash can and fill the rest with ice.
You can take the garbage can technique a little further and build a DIY kegerator from a trash can. Check it out at homebrewassociation.com
Bath tub of ice
No garbage can available? plop your keg in the tub and fill it with ice.
Use the outdoors to keep untapped kegs cold
If you live in a cool climate, half the year you can store the keg in your garage or outdoors. However, you will have another problem if temperatures drop below 32 degrees. It is not recommended that a keg be stored below 36 degrees to maintain flavors. However, most beers will not freeze until 28 degrees depending on the alcohol content.